Assessing impact of rural advisory services on smallholders
In her presentation to the Policy Dialogue, Dr. Elske Van de Fliert, University of Queensland, Australia highlighted the critical issues of rural advisories for smallholder farmers by defining sustainable development as an increase in production while protecting the environment and ensuring social equity.
Dr. Van de Fliert also explained the sustainable livelihood framework that, according to the DFID integrates human, social, physical and financial capital. At the village level, this means to quantify the impact of these goals according to fair income, sufficient quality food, good health, equitable relations and healthy environment that need to be incorporated in development programmes for smallholders.
The process of technology transfer for enhancing livelihoods and promoting socioeconomic growth should be monitored and evaluated regularly to assess its impact, she pointed out. It is important to note that evaluation needs to be: (i) participatory, to understand the different levels mentioned above; (ii) holistic, to understand the dynamic context, networks and how different systems are interrelated; (iii) critical, to assess inequalities, challenges and contradictions in the process of social change; (iv) realistic, to understand how systems actually behave and are grounded in local realities; (v) learning-based, to provide opportunities to foster continuous learning, evaluative thinking and better communication and trust, as a basis for development of evaluation capacities and learning organizations; (v) emergent, to reflect social change and continuous feedback loops, and capture unexpected outcomes and ripple effects; (vi) and complex, to understand the dynamic context and outcomes unknown in advance, which require analysis of social norms and mixed evaluation methods.
Fundamental to these processes is the aim to develop mutual trust, partnerships, two-way communication and mutual learning.
Reporter: Suraj Pandey, APCTT-ESCAP